New Delhi: Priya Ramani, the woman journalist who levelled allegations of sexual harassment on M J Akbar, said on Monday that she is ready to fight the criminal defamation case filed against her by the Union minister.

Hours after Akbar filed the defamation case against her, Ramani issued a detailed statement slamming the Union minister for refuting the allegations levelled against him by several women and said that “truth and the only absolute truth is my only defence”.

“I am deeply disappointed that a union minister should dismiss the detailed allegations of several women as a political conspiracy. By instituting a case of criminal defamation against me, Mr Akbar has made his stand clear. Rather than engage with the serious allegations that many women have made against him, he seeks to silence them through intimidation and harassment,” Ramani said in her statement.

Slamming Akbar’s Sunday statement in which he refuted the allegations levelled against him and hinting at political vendetta, Ramani said, “I wish to register my strong protest against Mr Akbar’s most recent statement, which pays no heed to the trauma and fear of survivors or the courage required to speak truth to power”.

Earlier today, Akbar filed a private criminal defamation complaint against Ramani who recently levelled charges of sexual misconduct against him as the #MeToo campaign raged in India.

The Minister of State for External Affairs has accused Ramani of “wilfully, deliberately, intentionally and maliciously” defaming him and has sought her prosecution under the penal provision on defamation.

“The complainant (Akbar) also had a long career in journalism, he launched India’s first weekly political news magazine…,” the complaint said and listed out defamatory imputations made by Ramani on social media against him.

Whilst it is apparent that the accused has resorted to a series of maliciously serious allegations which she is diabolically and viciously spreading in media, it is also apparent that false narrative against the complainant (Akbar) is being circulated in a motivated manner for the fulfilment of an agenda, the complaint said.

It termed as “scandalous” the allegations made by Ramani against Akbar and said “very tone and tenor” are ex-facie defamatory and they have not only damaged his goodwill and reputation in his social circle but also affected Akbar’s reputation in the community and friends, family and colleagues and caused irreparable loss and tremendous distress.

The complaint, filed through advocate Sandeep Kapur, seeks issuance of notice to Ramani under Section 499 (defamation) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC).

Section 500 of the IPC provides that an accused may be awarded two years jail term or fine or both in the event of conviction.

Hours after returning from a trip to Africa, Akbar had termed allegations of sexual harassment levelled against him by several women as “false, fabricated and deeply distressing” and said he was taking appropriate legal action against them.

Akbar’s name cropped up on social media when he was in Nigeria.

The women, who accused Akbar of sexual harassment, included Priya Ramani, Ghazala Wahab, Shuma Raha, Anju Bharti and Shutapa Paul.